Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet the Mormons!

Hey everyone! I hope you have had a great week! Things here have been going great! There is not a ton to report on this week, but we have had a couple of great opportunities. A lot of this week has also been us getting ready for these up coming interviews that will take place these next 3 weeks. So a lot of time has gone into making those plans. 

 So this last week we did something that the mission has seen before!  We had a couple days where we went through the mission and watched a movie!! Now this wasn't just any ordinary movie. We got to watch the new movie that will come out October 10th called, Meet The Mormons! The missionary department got in contact with President Mortensen this about 2 weeks ago. And they requested that all the missionaries watch this movie so that when it does come out, we as missionaries can be able to answer questions. 

Now the movie will not be used as a proselyting tool. We as missionaries have been asked to not proselyte at or near movie theaters. We want this to be a way for people to learn a little more about  why we live the way we do! It is such a great movie!! We were able to go and watch it 3 times as we went around the mission. We were asked to set up and take down all of the equipment for it. We watched it in different church buildings around the Houston area, and we watched it through a internet link sent to us by the missionary department. And can I just tell how well this movie was done! Its a documentary that goes through the lives of 6 different families who are members of the church. And it just really helps to clear up a lot of  misconceptions about the church. 

It was also cool because while  President Mortensen was in the MTC, he watched this film. And after they also were able to hear from a couple of different focus groups that talked about there thoughts on the film. And about 74% of them said that they would recommend and take their friends to go and see it! And many non members said they would be more willing to have missionaries in there home after seeing it! 

I would just like to invite each of you to go and watch it when it comes out! I promise you that you will absolutely love it! And please go and see it with your families and also invite all your friends. It is also great because the the money from it goes straight to the red cross. We are encouraged to invite members to go see it so that it can stay in the theaters and give more opportunities for people to see it. Please make it a priority to see it! You won't be disappointed! Like I said I was able to watch it 3 times and each time I loved it that much more! So please again if your have the chance go and see it!  Here is a link to a trailer for it.

Other than that this week we have had the chance to meet with a Kevin a couple of times! He has been reading in the Book of Mormon a lot more this week which has been great! That is really what he needs to help him overcome the obstacles he is going through. And he has even recognized that himself!  We have also been able to get more members involved in helping teach and fellowship.So I think that has been helping him also to have a great support system.  But we will continue to meet with him and help him out in a possible way that we can. 

We are also continuing to get in the homes with different members and help them find ways they can get more involved with missionary work. And the member excitement has just been incredible! We are getting about 1000 members+ each week to commit to help with the work!  And it is just based on what they feel they can do to help. I just know the Lord  is hastening his work so much at this time! I love it! 

(Us with a member this week after we went to teach Kevin)
Sunday we also went and sat in on some Stake Correlation meetings. We were in meetings most of the day but it was very much worth it! We had the stake presidency, zone leaders and some of the high counselors that usually meet in there meetings. The mission President will also go, but this time he had the mission presidency and us come along. We were able to discuss some of the revelation he had received from the last mission president seminar. And as we discussed with with this council it was just incredible. Both meetings the councils came out with a action plan to get started on how they can get themselves more involved and make things more effective! It just gets me all pumped once I start talking about it! 

Things are going very well, and I am just also so excited to be able to listen to general conference this coming weekend. I just know that I will be able to receive answers and be spiritually nourished as I got and listen to the words of the prophets and apostles. I just want to extent a promise to y'all in preparation for this conference. If you are looking for an answer to a question or concern you have in your life, then prayerfully listen to the speakers this week during general conference. Start with a prayer and specifically asked our Father in Heaven to bless you with the answers you came with. As you do this and your really strive to listen with your spiritual ears, then Heavenly Father will bless you with those answers, and he will make them know unto you through the Holy Ghost. I know that to be true and I promise that to you as a Called representative of Jesus Christ! I have done this every conference and I know that it works! 

I am just so happy to be a missionary at this time, and I know the Lord will continue to hasten his work! I know that as we are as effective as we can he will bless us and help us to become instruments in his hands to bring about much good. I know that to be true! I know that we are being led by a prophet on the earth today, and that God continues to ​reveal truths to His us because he loves us! I know that to be true! 

Well I hope y'all have a wonderful week! 
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Put your shoulder to the wheel...because it's go time!

Received on September 22nd.

Dang this last week has been one of the most epic weeks!!!! We have just been able to to teach so much this week, and we have just had some incredible things going on here in the mission and especially in the area! So this week I will just highlight to great things that happened. 

But a last week think I mentioned how our mission president went to a mission presidents seminar. And he was able to get some great revelation on what the mission needed. And it really just focused on planning and working more effectively in ward council. And so we have been working harder to get better at that. This last week we took a lot of time having a very in depth study and planning session that was entirely focused on the people who we are teaching. 

As missionaries it is so easy to get sucked into thinking more about numbers for your goals and just making ideas that have no action plan to them. We we spent so much more time coming up with effective action plans for what we were going to do! And that really is what helped us have such an incredible week! Over the past few months we have been so busy with trying to get our administrative things done we haven't really been able to give all our time and attention to our assigned proselyting area. And we also had discussed ways to try to get the ward council more involved. 

A couple weeks ago when we met with them we were able to bring an idea that Elder L. Tom Perry came up with in 2009. It  is called the ward mission process which long story short is where the ward council comes up with a list of names. Now from this list each auxiliary leader choose five names and delegates people to go an reach out and invite them to take lessons from the missionaries. Then later they report back to the ward council, and the missionaries go over and start teaching and get referrals from the families. And it is this constant cycle. It is very effective when it is done right.  

And at the time when this idea was brought up to the bishop he shot it down pretty quick. He was worried that we were trying to reinvent the wheel. But we had one Ward missionary who was with us that used this in his mission and he was really pushing for it because of how effective it was. With that being said that kinda sets us up for how our week went. 

Tuesday night we were invited by this same ward missionary to go to a meeting with him and the high councilor over missionary work up in the Spring Stake. And we met with him and just had this great talk with him about the ward mission. We taught him all about this plan and how it works. Now many people have heard of the plan before, but they haven't been able to fully connect the dots with how it is fully suppose to work to get the missionaries and the members involved together. So we met with him for about 1 1/2 hours. And by the time we were done talking he was stoked about ward mission plan, and he wants to start training all the ward mission leaders in the stake on how to use this great tool from Elder Perry. So we are going to really try to get this going in our mission. 

Wednesday and Friday were just epic teaching days for us! Literally both of those days went like this. In the morning we went in the office after studies just to get a couple little administrative things done. And then for the rest of the day we had appointment after appointment after appointment! It was just teaching all day! We have had a couple of just amazing teaching experiences this week! We got 2 new interested investigators. And both of them have been member referrals. 

I also mentioned in previous emails about Kevin. Kevin has a strong desire to do what is right and has brought up baptism again. He just has some different obstacles with some drug addictions that he is working with right now.  And he has told us how much he wants to stop, but it is just to hard for him. So we taught him on Weds about the Book of Mormon in depth and he committed to read it. And when we came back on Friday he read a small part of the chapter we assigned to him, but other than that he didn't read. So we said we wouldn't go on to the next lesson until we make sure he is keeping commitments. So we read with him out of Alma 36. And chapter related so well to him and as we discussed it he really tried to apply this chapter to him, and how he could find relief. He said that he wanted to continue to read more from the Book of Mormon and learn what it said. 

We also asked him if he wanted a priesthood blessing. And he said yes. We were able to give the blessing and the spirit was so strong! We had a return missionary who has been coming and helping fellow ship Kevin, and she mentioned that the lesson was great the spirit was just as strong! It was cool seeing Keven come out of these appts just as happy as could be! Already in the short time we have met with him his countenance has changed! The gospel is already beginning to bring this strong spirit into his life.

We are also meeting with an investigator named William. We met him through going through the ward list, and he is the friend of one of the members. We were able to teach him on Friday also and he connected the dots so well with the restoration! I have never seen anyone put the dots together so well with a lesson! So there looks like there will be some great potential, but he has some different obstacles he will have to over come also. But it will be good! 

Ok now Thursday was alot of planning but as well a great meeting with our bishop! We went to go and meet with him about the ward and maybe ways we can better help the ward. And it was a great meeting! This one turned into  a 2 hour meeting. And we went over the ward mission process again, and after we went more in depth with it and taught him about it he was all over it! He was so excited to get going! It was so funny because he  stated his last concern right at the end. And he said," now that I understand this, I only have once concern. Will you have enough time to teach all these people." And Elder Hillebrant and I turned and looked at each other and then back to bishop and said, "Bishop that a good problem to have" and then we explained how we will do splits also to get all the work done! I wish I could go more into detail, but I am running out of time and it was just an awesome meeting! Bishop committed himself to read chapter 13 in preach my gospel, and he is also going to commit the whole ward council to read it! The work is seriously picking up so much more! As our mission president always says, "Its go time!!!

Saturday was all day of just being out and committing members to do missionary work! We got 5 different commitments from members. And so now we have it all written down and we are just going out and follow up now! We have also been committing members now to bare there testimony in sacrament meeting when we here they are having great missionary experiences! So the whole ward is just getting really excited! 

Sunday was also dang epic because we had church! And then had a great correlation meeting where we brought up all of the needs of our investigators as well as brought up the idea of the ward mission process. And we got the ward mission leaders on board and now we are beginning to move forward. From what we have heard the bishopric has already come up with the list. So now we are working with the auxiliary leaders to pick names and delegate members to reach out to them. It really is so much better if members reach out, because sometimes LA members view the missionaries as the "church police" so many times they don't want to talk with us. But when a member reaches out to these members they are much more welcoming. And they also then have a friend to be there for them which is a direct link to the ward. And when we are able to get in and start teaching and strengthening the members, referrals will begin to come and the work will just continue to take off! 

If you can't tell this kinda stuff gets  me all fired up! I am just so excited to see where it goes. And they actually just announced the formation of another new stake here in our mission. It will be called the Woodlands stake. So that was great to hear!  

  We have also started a new thing in the mission. We are now doing mission president fireside. And that was last night! It was such a spiritual experience. It was a mix between a missionary choir of almost 100, Mormon messages, testimonies from recent converts in the mission, and then President and Sister Mortensen Speaking! It was such a powerful night! We had Kevin come to it, and there was actually a point where he went and talked with President Mortensen. They had a great discussion. 

And I forgot to mention this a little bit earlier, but Kevin also came to church. And the reason why he has been struggling to come to church is because with the drugs he would always wake up sick. And he would begin to go through the withdrawals. But he told us that since the blessing he has had no desire to do it anymore. And so he was at church and and came to the fireside and talked with president Mortensen. And it was great because President really talked with him and helped him to understand that if he really does want to get fully away from his addiction he needed to continue reading in the Book of Mormon, and he needed to pray sincerely and really rely on God. He said it wouldn't be the easiest thing to fully get away from but as he continues to work hard God will bless him for his efforts. 

I just want to bear my testimony on the great miracles that have been seen this week. I know that God does still work miracles! He has been helping Kevin to not feel sick as he goes through the withdrawals. And that blessing has been working according to his faith. As he has read the Book of Mormon, and as he has really prayed and relied on God, he has been blessed and I know that he will be healed! I know so many times God wants to bless us and help us, but we again just need to fully rely on Him, and trust fully in His timing for things. I also bear witness that the Lord is continuing to hasten his work!  I have seen this so much even in just this last week! Aren't we so blessed to be able to be apart of it! I know I am blessed to be apart of it! 

It is because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I have found lasting joy in my life! I know how much it can mean to others! That is why I am out here sharing it! I want others to find relief from the things in this world! The gospel of Jesus Christ can defiantly do that for them! I know that to be true! I would again just invite you to prayerfully search for missionary opportunities! You may be going through trials or feel that you don't have enough time for it. But I promise you if you commit to the Lord you want to share this message with someone else, and that you want to help strengthen his children, he will provide the way for you to share the gospel, as well as accomplish the things you need to get done! I know that to be true, and I know he will bless you! 

Also just begin to be prayerful about how to share it. And as you do this and your prepare for General Conference that is coming up Heavenly Father will reveal to you through the spirit on what things you can do. I promise you that as a called representative of Jesus Christ.

You can see how the fireside went by going to the mission blog. They even have a short video from it!  

Well I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Great week to be in the great state of Texas!

Things have calmed down a lot more this week. We still were all around, but it was good. We had some great things happen this last week.

   Tuesday we had our new leadership training. And I love how the meetings have changed from what they use to be. It seems that the way we use to do the meetings was more administrative. It was us up there and talking about what the new leaders responsibilities would be. This is good, but it certainly is not the most effective. So while talking with President we discussed what we can do to be more effective and help train these new leaders on how to go back and bless their zone. As we counseled together we decided to make it more meaningful by have the key indicator reports ready for the meetings and helping these missionaries to see what their zones or districts need help with. After seeing the data, they can go back and prayerfully discuss with the other zone leaders and sister training leaders and district leaders to make the work be more effective. It helps to add a great sense of purpose to what they are doing. So with this little change we still discussed what their responsibilities were, but we gave them the opportunity to receive revelation for their areas of stewardship.

 We also had the opportunity to meet with one of our new investigators named Brian. We were able to teach him the restoration.  And overall I would say that it went well. There was a little more of a language barrier, but I feel that he does have a sincere desire to learn. So we were able to teach him and we committed him to begin reading the Book of Mormon. He accepted to do that, and then we now just have to follow up with him this next week. 

This last week also consisted of some different exchanges. I was able to go up and work with the Elders in the singles ward in College Station. And this was so different for me, but it was so much fun. Now I have been serving in a YSA Ward for just 3 months now so I am still working on how to work better with YSA 's. 

But being up on Texas A&M's campus and proselyting was so much fun! It is so much different. We were biking through campus, and you literally just weave through all the students as you go from appointment to appointment. We also had about 2 hours set apart to just proselyte on campus! So a lot of the students go to churches in the area so many of them are open to talking about Jesus Christ openly and talking about the different things that they believe in. 

Now the trick is how to stop them as they are on there way to there classes. We had a stack of pass along cards that had a picture of Jesus Christ on it, and we would just start handing them out to people as they would go by. Many of them would stop and accept the picture and then we were able to talk with them. It was so cool to be up there and teach people. 

I was able to talk with this girl. We had a discussion for about 30 mins. It was cool we just started talking about what church she attended and what some of their beliefs are. After talking she started asked about what our  beliefs are on baptism, the sacrament, and other principles of doctrine.  

I was able to talk about the Book of Mormon, and bear my testimony of it and how it has blessed my life. I testified that the Book of Mormon strengthens my testimony of the Bible and brings me closer to Jesus Christ and his teachings. I know she felt the spirit. I definitely felt it as I testified of why the Book of Mormon is so important. So I was able to teach a lesson to her, and we got her contact info, and the other missionaries in College Station will start teaching her. 

So it was just a new fun way to proselyte. And I have never seen so many YSA's in one place before so that was cool. And of course while I was up there I had to snag a couple sweet pics of the campus. 

Other than that this week we also did some exchanges down in Melbourne area. It was quite the change. I went from one of the farthest places north in the mission, to the very south point. But it was still a good exchange. We had great opportunities to talk with people. 

We met this guy named Earl. He was very interesting and such a great guy. We were planning on going in and teaching him the restoration. But we tried to go in and teach and we only got a part of the way through the lesson. He has a very interesting religious standpoint. He takes his beliefs from a couple different religions. When we were teaching him he really truly knew a lot. He has never read from the Doctrine and Covenants, but he was quoting phrases that are found with in it. So we had a great experience teaching him. But this week we had some great exchanges.

And to finish the week we had a wonderful Sunday. We were able to watch the CES devotional with one of our investigators. The devotional was great and talked a lot about laying down our lives or submitting our will to the Lord.  And the spirit was very strong! So overall it was a really great week! 

I know this is a short email, but we had some different meetings with President today so we didn't have quite as much time. But things are going well! I would just again invite you to please pray for missionary opportunities. They don't always have to be in your area you find them either. Through social media you will have friends who may not be member. Just think to your self the next natural step you can taking in bring them closer to feeling Gods love. You don't have to invite them to meet with the missionaries right off the bat. But maybe share a Mormon message with them on Facebook or message them an article or link to the church website. 

I promise you as you do this you will see  that they will be receptive and see your love for the gospel. And that will lead them and soften hearts and help them be receptive to the message of the restored gospel. I know it will bless you and it will bless them. We have a message that brings salvation to the Lords children. It helps bring light and understanding on how to return and live with God someday. We can't afford to keep this message to ourselves. If we truly are grateful for this gospel, it will show through your efforts to share it with others and establish and strengthen the church where you live. I know that to be true and I testify of that! 

 I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Transfer week finished!!!!!!

I can't even believe how fast this last week has gone! Transfer weeks the days feel so long, but then the week just flies by! We had a few more late nights at the office trying to get everything prepared for Tuesday morning. We were trying to finish up leadership calls as well as training calls. I was doing the majority of the calls that night. My companion was updating the transfer sheet while calls were being made. But we finished on time so that was good! 
  This transfer wasn't as big as the last transfer though, so it made things a bit easier to coordinate and make changes. This transfer we had to also pull about 3 cars from the mission. Our mission has one of the biggest car fleets in the church. We have about 99 Cars, and they asked us to take it town to 96. So I was running around Tuesday morning to different parts of the parking lot trying to collect car keys, and get cars to the right sets of missionaries. 

It wasn't to bad of a morning though. After we took the departing missionaries over to the mission home to have lunch. They went though some different training to help them to prepare for when they arrived home. We were able to sit in an listen to that and then we drove them over to the Temple. Sadly for this month the Houston Temple is closed for maintenance and  a bit of construction work. 

But they have a annex building off to the side we were able to go into. We watched a little movie called between Heaven and Earth. It is the same video they will usually show at temple open houses. It compares our temples alot to the ones described in the Old Testament. It was really cool and we all learned alot. And then of course after President stands up and just blows our minds with his knowledge of the scriptures. Really everything that we read in the scriptures have symbolic meanings that point us to the temple! He read out of 1st nephi 17, and it was just incredible!

This is at Transfer Meeting

We went back to the mission home after for dinner and departing testimonies. This is one of my favorite parts of transfer week.  The spirit is always very strong, and you come out of there feeling edified and just ready to keep going on with the work! The time came that we all got back into our vehicles, and we went over to the hotel to drop the sisters off for the night, and then locked up the trailer and went back to the mission office to park the transfer van and trailer. 

But when we got back to the office we went to the back of the trailer, and the big industrial lock that we had was gone! I remember thinking to my self..."What happened I put it on there! " I was becoming a little frustrated that it was gone, and I just said a silent prayer that we would be able to find it. We parked the van, and then dropped off the departing Elders at our apartment. We went back out to see if we could drive on the roads we came from to find it. I just kept praying that we would find it. And sure enough about after 10 min of leaving our apartment we found the lock sitting in the road. We aren't sure how it came off, but we found it! It was such a miracle! I know the Lord answered my prayer! 

Departing Missionaries

Some of the departing missionaries I served around my whole mission!

Wednesday we dropped the outgoing missionaries off at the airport. It was sad to see them leave, but they will have great things a head of them. That same afternoon we were able to pick up the new missionaries. We took our transfer van to the airport, and President also drove over. We had to main flights with missionaries come in about an hour apart from each other. We picked up the first group and put them in the transfer van with Elder Hillebrant, and one of the senor missionaries name Elder Edwards. And then President wanted me to drive with him to the other side of the airport. 

President Mortensen and me

It was fun to be able to spend time with him and Sister Mortensen. They are both such great people! The next group flew in right on time and we picked them up and brought them back to stake center near the mission office and did some training over there with them. Then after that we packed up and went over to the mission home. We took two of our cars over. Elder Hillebrant took the transfer van and I took one of the Chevy Malibu's we pulled from and area. We went back and had a great dinner and testimony meeting with everyone. 

While they finished up we unloaded all of the luggage in to the street so the new missionaries could just take the things they needed for that  one night and the next day. We had the idea turn the headlights on for the Malibu so they could see better. And for what every reason we didn't start the car and keep them running. We only left for like 30 min and it completely killed the car battery. I just though to my self that it was just not my week for cars to work for me. We needed to get the missionaries back so they could get some rest for the night, and so I ran in and asked President if he had any jumper cables. Unfortunately he didn't, but he pulled out his keys and threw them to me and said take my car. President drives a 2014 Toyota Avalon. Again another answered prayer to accomplish the things we needed to. And it was a bonus being able to drive that car. :) 

Prayer is just such a blessing. I have such a strong testimony of prayer and the power of it. The Lord know we will have obstacles in our lives. They are there to help us learn and grow. Now even though these were just little problems that I ran into, the Lord was still willing to answer my prayers. He is always there and always ready to answer we just need to first ask, and then be patient as we wait for him to answer us on HIS time! That is the key! 

We got the missionaries off on Thursday morning after some more training and role playing. We had the chance to role play master teaching with President in front of the new missionaries. And overall I think it went really well! The spirit was very strong, and I know he was leading my words. It is one of the coolest experiences when you speak,and from you say you learn something new! That is how you can know you are talking by the spirit! It was just such a tender mercy again to be able to help the new missionaries see where this mission is heading! The work is continuing to hasten, and as we help these new missionaries in there teaching, they will be able to help so many more people! 

To finish the week we just got transfers finalized and IMOS all updated with the new information. And then we had a great Sabbath day!!  We checked up on some referrals and other the ward wanted us to check in on. And we didn't find the people we were expecting, but we came out that night with 3 referrals to send off! So it was such a wonderful week! 

I love being able to be a missionary and just take this short time and give it all to the Lord. I know he is blessing me and helping me from day today! I really have felt my relationship with Him Strengthen immensely since I have been out! I know he lives and does Love he of us! I think the things that have affected that have really been the time and effort that has gone into scripture studies! If you want a better relationship with God, just do the basics. Read from the Book of Mormon, Pray, and go to church! They are the primary answers, but they will make the biggest difference in your life! I know that to be true, I have seen it! 

Well I hope y'all have a great week! 
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Pre Transfer WEEK!!!

Hey everyone!! I am going to have to keep this email nice and short today! We have had a lot of stuff to do today to be ready for transfers tomorrow! I can't believe another transfer has gone by already! Time is seriously is going by way to fast! This last week was mainly getting ready for transfers! We met about 4 different times this week. Each session went about 3-4 hours each. A couple of the nights we didn't end up leaving the mission office until about 11:00. We would be sitting there with president and just consider the different changes that needed to be made! I know I mentioned this about 6 weeks ago, but I just love being able to see how the spirit works as we discuss transfers and see which missionaries need to go to which areas! 

This week we did have some cool things happening! We are really trying to get the members more involved! And it has been great being able to do that! It is so much more effective! For example we had a member bring his friend named Kevin. We were able to teach him. We did some more of the master teaching. He grasped the concept of prophets and apostles and truly understood that was the foundation of Christs Church. We then taught him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and he said they he would read it! We also invited him to come to a baptism this last week and he was excited to come. 

It was funny because on the phone when we told him about it he first thought we were taking him to the church to be baptized. We explained to him how we could see someone else get baptized. He then said " Oh thats cool, when can I schedule my baptism for then? So we were both happy to hear that! He really is having the spirit work on him. He had some different challenges he will have to overcome before baptism, but he does have the desire to change. Well sadly when the member went to go pic him up on Saturday for the baptism, he slept through his alarm, so wasn't ready. He later texted us and told us he was sorry and did really want to come. He also told us that he has been reading alot from the Book of Mormon! So that has been one of the big miracles for this week! 

Well again this is kinda short because so much of the week was just getting ready for this next week. But some cool things are happening hear. Yesterday while we were at church, President Mortensen texted us and told us to meet him at the office that night because he had made a lot of changes that he wanted to review. And he had some great ideas! One of them being the formation of a new zone! So now in the mission instead of having 11 zones. We will have 12! So things are continuing to hasten here! This mission is defiantly being blessed so much with having President Mortensen here! 

 Well that is about the time I have for this week, but next week I will write in more details! I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Christensen